The tragedy of love thwarted by fate has always intrigued writers. In the sixteenth century, William Shakespeare took this theme and fashioned one of the world's great plays: Romeo And Juliet
. In our own time, Shakespeare's drama has been used as a basis for the overwhelmingly successful musical play West Side Story
. Though one of these works is set among the nobility of Verona, and the other among immigrant families of New York's West Side, both tell the story of the plight of young star-crossed" lovers.
As Norris Houghton writes in his introduction: "What we see is that all four young people strive to consummate the happiness at the threshold on which they stand and which they have tasted so briefly. All four are deprived of the opportunity to do so, the Renaissance couple by the caprice of fate, today's youngsters by the prejudice and hatred engendered around them....
"Poets and playwrights will continue to write of youthful lovers whom fate drives into and out of each other's lives. The spectacle will always trouble and move us, even as the two dramas in this volume do today."